A mayday was called when one of them, a veteran firefighter, briefly became separated from the hose line and fire group, Sheets said. "His air was getting low and he became disoriented," the chief said.
The mayday brought to mind the death of Chicago fire Capt. Herbie Johnson in a South Side fire Friday night.
"That is all on your mind. But in this situation, he ... was able to be removed from the house very quickly," Sheets said. "I've been a firefighter for 31 years and a chief for over 18, and when you hear a mayday, it certainly adds a little anxiety to the situation."
That firefighter was hospitalized but is expected to be released soon. The third firefighter was injured when something fell on his neck, said Sheets, who added that none of the injuries is life-threatening.
Authorities believe the fire started about 8:50 a.m. in the basement of the home in the 4900 block of West 99th Street, said Oak Lawn Police Division Chief Michael Kaufmann.
One person in the home was able to escape and was out of the house by the time police arrived, Kaufmann said.
Village Manager Larry Deetjen said the building was engulfed in flames when firefighters got there and searched it.
The resident, who had been smoking before the fire, tried to put it out himself, Sheets said.
"This is what we believe," Sheets said. "The fire had a head start on us."
The resident was treated at the scene for smoke inhalation and declined to be taken to a hospital, the chief said.
Careless use of smoking materials is listed in preliminary reports as the cause of the fire, Sheets said.
Written by Chicago Tribune